You may be in on the trend or you may be oblivious, but you’ve seen it, and you’ve probably been drawn in by it.

Copious amounts of whitespace – large gaps between images and chunks of text, whether the background color is white or not – are appearing on more and more marketing materials.

Why, you ask, and why should you care?

Here, I’ll explain why.

It All Started On Web Sites

The last few decades, marketing messages have proliferated past consumers’ ability to absorb.

In response, attention spans have shrunk. With more competition and less time, web sites reacted by cramming their home pages with information so they could say as much as possible before visitors clicked away.

Those crammed home pages looked like this:

Easytobook, pre-May 2012 (more details here)

But what rises must fall, and drowning site readers with a slew of details isn’t exactly user-friendly. So a counter-trend rose up: presenting the basics, and nothing more, like this:

Easytobook, post-May 2012

WordPress management console ManageWP posted about updating their web page in a similar fashion – see the before and after here.

What Was The Point Of Adding Whitespace?

More whitespace means less content, which translates to “only essential content.” This tactic has three benefits:

  • Important information is front and center.
  • Those shorter attention spans, with less to sort through, are better served.
  • The page scales more nicely for small screens.

Which is why…

The Trend Spread To Email-For-Mobile

Since links on small screens are tiny and most fingers are not, the whitespace trend spread to marketing emails. Links and buttons are now padded with extra space to give those fingers room to click.

As we’ve shown before, here are two versions of the same Bluefly email:

Here, links are crowded together

Whitespace allows readers to click

It’s Showing Up In Grocery Fliers

Many grocery stores are still following the traditional many-rows-of-tiny pics approach – you know the one; it looks like this:

But lately, mailboxes have been opening to reveal fliers of a far different style:

With all that whitespace, stores can emphasize their biggest sales and most popular products.

Even Product Packaging Is Adopting The Trend

Pharmaceutical startup Help not only incorporates copious whitespace into their web site, but their product packaging as well:

Shoppers are met with exactly the answers they’re looking for, and nothing more.

How To Create Whitespace In Your Emails

There are two key steps:

1. Keep text minimal. Communicate what’s important, and use your typical brand voice, but leave out the nitty gritty.

2. Leave blank areas between your blocks of text, images and other elements.

In AWeber’s Block Editor, where you drag and drop your design elements, whitespace is easy to incorporate. For example, here are two versions of the same email, the first created with no thought for whitespace and the second created in the Block Editor:

For even more space around content, you can use the + sign to insert an extra columns or rows.

Adding whitespace to your emails can create a whole new design. You might want to see some examples of similar designs before you jump in, so here’s a collection of whitespace-d web pages from DesignWoop.

Your Predictions, Please

Whitespace, though useful, gets less content in front of your readers before they have to scroll or click for more.

Do you prefer the cleaner, newer design trend, or do are you sticking with the show-it-all method? We’re curious which way small businesses are leaning, so let us know in the comments – and thanks!